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Forensic facial examiners versus super-recognizers: Evaluating behavior beyond accuracy



Carina Hahn, Liansheng Tang, Amy Yates, P. Jonathon Phillips


We evaluated the detailed, behavioral properties of face matching performance in two specialist groups: forensic facial examiners and super-recognizers. Both groups compare faces to determine identity with high accuracy and outperform the general population. Typically, facial examiners are highly trained; super-recognizers rely on natural ability. We found distinct behaviors between these two groups. Examiners used the full 7-point identity judgment scale (−3: "different"; +3: "same"). Super-recognizers' judgments clustered toward highly confident decisions. Examiners' judgments for same- and different-identities were symmetric across the scale midpoint (0); super-recognizers' judgments were not. Examiners showed higher identity judgment agreement than super-recognizers. Despite these qualitative differences, both groups showed insight into their own accuracy: more confident people and those who rated the task to be easier tended to be more accurate. Altogether, we show to better understand and interpret judgments according to the nature of someone's facial expertise, evaluations should assess more than accuracy.
Applied Cognitive Psychology


facial forensics, facial identification, facial proficiency, forensic facial examiner, super-recognizer


Hahn, C. , Tang, L. , Yates, A. and Phillips, P. (2022), Forensic facial examiners versus super-recognizers: Evaluating behavior beyond accuracy, Applied Cognitive Psychology, [online],, (Accessed July 14, 2024)


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Created September 25, 2022, Updated November 29, 2022